Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu today rejected the Congress-led opposition’s motion to impeach Chief Justice Dipak Misra, terming it “politically motivated.” Naidu had over the weekend consulted experts following the opposition’s notice. News agency PTI, citing sources reported that the Vice President rejected the impeachment notice citing lack of substantial merit in it.
The Congress and six other parties had on Friday moved an impeachment notice against the CJI. To impeach the CJI, a notice needs to be signed by at least 50 Rajya Sabha MPs, whereas in the Lok Sabha, it needs to be signed by 100 MPs. The opposition parties had accused the CJI of corruption, misusing his authority and failing to protect the independence of the judiciary.
The Rajya Sabha chairman was in Telangana but on Sunday he cut short his visit and returned to the national capital and held consultations with experts. He is believed to have spoken to Attorney General KK Venugopal, former SC judge Justice B Sundershan Reddy, former AG K Parasaran, former secretary general Rajya Sabha VK Agnihotri, former general secretary Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap, former law secretary P K Malhotra, former legislative secretary Sanjay Singh and senior officials of the Rajya Sabha secretariat.
Track highlights here:
3:30 pm: Kapil Sibal said that the Vice President must consult an eminent jurist, a High Court judge and the CJI. In this case, he said, the VP should contact the judges of the Collegium. “Hence, the decision to rehect the motion is illegal,” Sibal said.
3:15 pm: Senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that the party will contest the VP’s rejection order in the Supreme Court. he said that it is their privilege to move the motion and the Rajya Sabha Chairman cannot boot this privilege.
2:54 pm: Rahul Gandhi is a failed leader. He can’t fight the political battle in the court of people. It is fight between democracy and dynasty: Sambit Patra
2:53 pm: It is time to impeach the Congress party and its nefarious designs. The impeachment process against the Congress party has started: BJP
2:45 pm: Congress points finger at Supreme Court when verdict is against their wish. Congress doesn’t have faith in judiciary, says BJP’s Sambit Patra
1:55 pm: BJP president Amit Shah said that the Congress party has trampled over the Constitution in letter and spirit, time and again. Shah made a mention of the Congress’ impeachment move and said that it is a party of a trend to demonise and weaken every institution.
If there is one party that has destroyed the spirit of our Constitution, it is the Congress. They do not want rule of democracy but they want rule of dynasty. Hence this is a farce of a movement by their President. https://t.co/n6mWPBHIRC
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 23, 2018
Our institutions which are an outcome of our Constitution today need to be saved from the onslaught of the Congress Party. The Congress Party has spared no institution and is attacking the EC, Supreme Court, Army for petty political gains.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 23, 2018
1:25 pm: CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury expresses disappointment over Vice President’s order. He said that the independene of the judiciary is in danger. “This was a wrong move by chairman of Rajya Sabha. This motion was not given proper attention. Something else is behind this,” he said.
1 pm: NCP, whose MPs also signed the notice of impeachement, said that the VP had “erred” while giving the order. “The chairperson rules that the petitioners (MPs) are not sure about themselves. With respect, I would say that he has erred there because definitely the petitioners, who have moved the petition, are not sure about it and therefore they would want an enquiry,” NCP MP Majeed Memon said, adding that investigation would have examined the extent of truthfulness in those apprehensions.
12:45 pm: In a first, four Supreme Court judges are seeking justice from public. The judiciary is under threat: Rahul Gandhi
12:22 pm: BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said that the Congress wanted to politicise the issue. “I must express my gratefulness to the vice-president who has applied his mind and gave a detailed order. The second aspect is regarding the complaint itself. It is a major wrong. The language itself in which it has been drafted says it appears, prima facie it appears, it looks. Plus, there is a division on this within the Congress party only goes to show that some vested interests are propagating these kinds of harm to the institution in political interest because they seem to be out of power,” she said.
12:21 pm: Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena said that both the parties (BJP and Congress) are playing dirty politics. He also questioned the rejection of the impeachment notice. He said that the way impeachment motion was rejected, is also political. “He could have waited, such hurry in rejection was not needed,” Sawant told ANI.
12:17 pm: This was the first time ever that an impeachment notice has been filed against a sitting CJI.
12:15 pm: Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee said that Venkaiah Naidu has rightly applied his mind in rejecting the opposition’s impeachment notice. Sorabjee also said that if the opposition parties move the Supreme Court contesting the VP’s order, their petition may not succeed.
12:11 pm: According to PTI, Supreme Court judges, including Chief Justice Dipak Misra, today initiated court proceedings at 10.45am instead of the scheduled 10.30am. There are speculation that they held a brief meeting on the issue of the impeachment notice. It said that the CJI entered the courtroom almost 15 minutes late. The CJI usually hold his court at 10:30 am.
12:04 pm: Additional Solicitor General Satya Pal Singh counters opposition leaders over their remark that the VP has no power to reject the impeachment notice. He said that the notice was politically motivated and it was an attempt by the Congress party to to malign the judiciary. CNN-News18 quoted him as saying that “it is within the powers of Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to reject the order”.
11:59 am: Kapil Sibal had on Sunday told The Indian Express that Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has no jurisdiction to reject the opposition parties’ impeachment notice. The lawyer said that he can’t decide on the merits of the notice. Sibal argued that the Vice President can only decide on the procedure.
11:57 am: The impeachment notice signed by 64 Rajya Sabha MPs had accused CJI Dipak Misra of corruption, misusing his authority and failing to protect the independence of the judiciary.
11:54 am: Kapil Sibal said that there is a need for an inquiry. “You want me to show you proof of misbehaviour without an inquiry,” Sibal said, adding that he is sure when an inquiry is done, facts would emerge and case would be proved.
11:48 pm: On Salman Khurshid, Kabil Sibal said that he is not a Rajya Sabha member.
11:40 am: Sibal also explained why former Union minister P Chidambaram had not signed the impeachment notice. He told the daily that there are cases pending and he is his counsel. Sibal said that it is a ‘great loss’ for Chidambaram because he can’t argue on his behalf anymore in that court. Sibal said that he will not appear in the CJI Dipak Misra’s courtroom till he retires.
11:36 am: Justice (Retd) RS Sodhi said that there were no enough ground to impeach the CJI. He said that the Congress party plunged in this ill-advised move. “You know you don’t have any ground, you know you can’t impeach him. In spite of knowing all that still you go on & plunge in this ill-advised move. This can’t be considered as a wise act,” he told ANI.
11:34 am: Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Sunday told The Indian Express that former PM Manmohan Singh was not involved in the process intentionally keeping the dignity of the office he held in the mind.
11:26 am: Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted that the Rajya Sabha can’t adjudge the motion. He said that the VP has no mandate to decide the merits of the motion. “Constitutional process of impeachment is set in motion with 50 MP’s giving the motion,” he said a tweet. He added that this is truly a fight between forces ‘Rejecting Democracy’ & voices ‘Rescuing Democracy’.
Within hours of 64 MP’s submitting the impeachment motion, Leader of Rajya Sabha(FM) had expressed naked prejudice by calling it a ‘revenge petition’ virtually dictating the verdict to Rajya Sabha Chairman on that day.
Has ‘Revenge Petition’ now become ‘Rescue Order’?
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) April 23, 2018
RS Chairman can’t decide on merits in absence of quasi judicial or administrative power (M.Krishna Swami’s case).
If all charges were to be proved before inquiry as RS Chairman suggests, Constitution & Judges (Inquiry) Act will have no relevance.
Don’t muzzle Constitution
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) April 23, 2018
11:22 am: KTS Tulsi argued that soon after submitting the impeachment notice to the Chairman in 2009 against Justice PD Dinakaran, Arun Jaitley and Sitaram Yechury had addressed the media and shared the nature of the motion.
11:15 am: Congress leader KTS Tulsi on Sunday said that the BJP become ‘very active’ after the impeachment notice was submitted to the Vice President.
11:12 am: I have applied my mind to all 5 charges made out in Impeachment Motion and examined all annexed documents. All facts as stated in motion don’t make out a case which can lead any reasonable mind to conclude that CJI on these facts can be ever held guilty of misbehavior. After having perused annexures to the Motion and having detailed consultations & having studied opinions of constitutional experts I am satisfied that admission of this notice of impeachment motion is neither desirable nor proper: Vice President
11:10 am: The Congress party had on Sunday said that it has not violated any rules by disclosing the content of the notice. The party alleged that the BJP and CPM had in 2009 disclosed the content of the moting they had brought against Justice PD Dinakaran.
11 am: Congress party to address media at 1:30 am after Vice President Venkaiah Naidu rejects opposition’s impeachment notice.
— ANI (@ANI) April 23, 2018
10:56 am: Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said that the Vice President has decided correctly. He said that the Congress party has committed suicide by doing this. “He need not have taken two days to make the decision. It should have been considered null and void and thrown out from the beginning,” he said.
10:50 am: The order said the conversation between third parties with third parties with dubious credentials cannot themselves constitute material evidence against CJI. “Going through the allegations mentioned in the notice, I am of the view they are neither tenable nor admissable. The allegations emerging from the case have a serious tendency of undermining the independence of the judiciary,” it added.
10:45 am: The order by Venkaiah Naidu says that there was no concrete reason behind the allegations against the CJI. It says that the motion presented by the MPs indicated suspicion, conjecture or an assumption in the Prasad Education Trust case. “The same does not constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt required to make out a case of proved misbehavior,” the order says.
10:40 am: Tehseen Poonawala says that the rejection of the impeachment notice was expected.
Surprise surprise !! Everybody knew the #ImpeachmentMotion would be rejected by #VenkaiahNaidu ji . More constitutional remedies are available including challenging this rejection in the SC. The #Impeachment grounds are not for the #VicePresident to decide upon.
— Tehseen Poonawalla (@tehseenp) April 23, 2018
10:35 am: Shehzad Poonawala, rebel Congress leader: VP & Chairman of RS has rejected the ill conceived & politically motivated #Impeachment motion that Team Rahul intended to use as a gun to hold the judiciary hostage – there were enough legal grounds to do so- would be foolhardy to challenge this merely to satisfy political ends
10:32 am: Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan questioned the Vice President on what grounds the impeachment notice was rejected. His tweet reads; “What!! VP Naidu rejects impeachment motion against CJI signed by 64 RS MPs! On what grounds? He has no power to say that charges are not made out. That’s for the inquiry committee of 3 judges. He only has to see if it’s signed by >50 MPs & possibly if charges are of misbehaviour.”
10:30 am: Senior lawyer and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the rejection was expected.
Expectedly, Sh Naidu rejected imp’ment motion. Unexpectedly, he did so within one day of returning from outstn. Hopefully, the alacrity was not intended to render infructuous calls for CJI to stop Admn work
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) April 23, 2018
10:25 am: Citing sources, PTI reported that RS Chairman Venkaiah Naidu held extensive consultations with top legal and constitutional experts before taking the decision. Sources said the VP had re-scheduled his travel plans considering the seriousness of the matter.
10:18 am: This is a really important matter. We don’t know what was the reason for the rejection. Congress and other opposition parties will talk to some legal experts and take the next step: Congress leader PL Punia
The Congress’ attempts to oust the Chief Justice appeared divided from the very beginning. Besides the Trinamool Congress and some other parties backing out, some Congress leaders — including former law minister Ashwani Kumar and Salman Kurshid — had opposed the party’s move. Kumar had said in an interview that party president Rahul Gandhi may have been “ill-advised”.